Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Over. The. Top. That’s the best way to describe Kevin Kwan’s novel, Crazy Rich Asians. When I brought this one home from the library, the title was met by raised eyebrows from my family members. And no, the title is not some cutesy inside joke you’ll get once you read the book – it’s pretty literal.

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The novel went perfectly with my traveling color scheme, too 😉

The characters in Kwan’s novel are the antithesis of minimalists. The story follows a seemingly never-ending family tree that has three main branches: the Youngs, the T’Siens and the Shangs. When Nick Young decides to bring his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend, Rachel Chu, home to Singapore with him for the summer, chaos ensues.

You won’t get bored reading this one, as the perspective changes from character to character. You’ll laugh, gasp, and cringe at the riches and rituals that Rachel is thrown into. You’ll learn about all the idiosyncrasies of the family and their culture right alongside her.

I’m a little late on the Kevin Kwan train, as the novel became a bestseller back in 2013. Better late than never, though. It is certainly a colorful read! I can’t wait to read the sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, next.

Have you read Crazy Rich Asians? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

Colorfully Yours,

Haley

Book Review: Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper

Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper…by Hilary Liftin.61qLRcOOXGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

That’s a mouthful, huh? Upon further inspection you’ll realize that Lizzie Pepper is a fictional movie star, but the novel is written as a faux tell-all by the character. The cover jokes that the novel is “ghostwritten” by Liftin, but she is truly the only author.

I started the book when I needed a reprieve from the heaviness of the historical fiction I’d been reading. I expected it to be a typical, superficial beach read. And for the first half of the book, that seemed to ring true. Lizzie Pepper is a B-list movie star who somehow falls into the arms of Hollywood’s most sought-after A-lister, Rob Mars. Their whirlwind romance takes place on private islands and private jets.

In fact, I wasn’t planning on reviewing it at all, because it was one of those books that isn’t necessarily bad in that it kept my interest but it wasn’t exactly good, either. The writing seemed to skim the surface rather than delve into any of the characters or events at great length, and parts seemed quite redundant.

In the second half, though, I was majorly sucked in. The novel turned from a mindless romance to a pretty dark drama. It turns out that Mars is part of an exclusive Hollywood group that walks like a cult and talks like a cult, but denies that it is a cult. Scientology, anyone?! The organization is called “One Cell” and is known as a “Studio” as opposed to a church, but the author clearly took a page out of Leah Remini’s book. In fact, several things about Mars and Pepper seem kind of Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes-y.

As the novel progresses and Lizzie gets sucked into One Cell, she starts to realize that she may be in too deep. The ending was actually giving me anxiety as I read it because I felt like the Scientologists – uh, I mean One Cells – were watching me.

I don’t want to give any more away – I’ll let you read for yourself. But I will say that if you’re into celebrity romances with a creepy twist, this is the book for you. I know I am.

Colorfully Yours,

Haley

Wives Tales: Z and The Aviator’s Wife

Two of my most recent reads have been pieces of historical fiction from the perspective of the wives of acclaimed men: Z: a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler and The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin.

While neither is the kind of novel that will keep you awake at night from suspense, they both offer a rare glimpse into the lives of the women ‘behind’ two of America’s most famous – or shall I say infamous – men.

Although the works are largely fictional, both authors ensure that they completed endless amounts of research so that the facts are correct – it’s the emotional side that they embellish. It’s interesting to try to figure out which circumstances are imagined and which truly happened the way they are depicted in the novels. 41oJOkSuGzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

I have always been intrigued by the excess of the 1920’s and beyond – the ‘jazz age,’ as F. Scott Fitzgerald coined it. Writers like Fitzgerald and Hemingway immortalized the time period through their novels, but we don’t often think much about their personal lives. Just like Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife did for Hadley, Ernest Hemingway’s wife, Z imagines what life would’ve been like behind the scenes for Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. The story reveals the demons that both Scott and Zelda battled throughout their lives together. A question is posed throughout the novel: did Zelda ruin Scott or save him?

Zelda reveals, “trouble has lots of forms. There’s financial trouble and marital trouble, there’s trouble with friends and trouble with landlords and trouble with liquor and trouble with the law. Every sort of trouble I can think of, we’ve tried it out – become expert at some of it, even, so much so that I’ve come to wonder whether artists in particular seek out hard times the way flowers turn their faces toward the sun.”

As can be said about a large portion of creative minds, Scott’s posthumous fame was preempted by years and years of struggle. Z leaves no dark stone unturned. Fitzgerald “had spent his life building what he’d seen as an impressive tower of stone and brick, and woken up to find it was only a little house of cards, sent tumbling now by the wind.”

I read The Aviator’s Wife because of how much I had enjoyed The Paris Wife a few years back. While the two are written by different authors, the novels are written in the same vein. The Aviator’s Wife follows the relationship of legendary American pilot Charles Lindbergh51faRUlBSGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. While I knew who Charles was and I knew something had happened to their son, that was about the extent of my knowledge prior to reading this book. Just like the aforementioned novels, this one reveals the darker, more personal side of the so-called American hero’s life and marriage.

Anne’s mother warns her daughter in the novel: “You need to stop looking for heroes, Anne. Only the weak need heroes… and heroes need those around them to remain weak.” Anne herself discovers that “marriage breeds its own special brand of loneliness” and cruelty, especially when that marriage is to an American hero.

Now that I’ve essentially written a novel of my own, go pick up these two eye-opening books. Authors Fowler and Benjamin gave these strong women voices where they had none – and that is a beautiful thing.

Colorfully Yours,

Haley

Book Review: Young Money

I am SO behind on my book reviews. I’m sure you’ve all been living blissfully without them, but as a serious bookworm, I’m feeling pretty uneasy about it. I hate to write a review so long after I read a book because the details aren’t as fresh in my mind, but sometimes life gets in the way. And the benefit for you guys is that if my memory is a bit hazy, I’m much less likely to reveal any spoilers! 😉

ym_rgSo without further ado, I’m here to review Kevin Roose’s Young Money. For some reason or other, I find the world of Wall Street extremely interesting. As an English major with a deep hatred for the finance classes I took in college, this may seem a little odd. But I think it’s precisely that other worldly quality that intrigues me about the financial industry. You could say that the fashion and editorial industries are both extremely cutthroat. At the end of the day, though, you don’t often hear about interns dying on the job.

Yeah. Two Wall Street interns in the last few years died from being stressed, overworked and sleep deprived. A few months back, I found myself researching the story of one of these young men, which led me to Young Money. Roose follows eight recent college graduates as they enter the world of Wall Street. He has to use made up names to protect their identities. That’s usually a scary sign, in my book.

You won’t find the cocaine-snorting, stripper-hiring debauchery of The Wolf of Wall Street. What you will hear about is the insane amounts of money these young professionals are making so soon out of college – and at what cost. These young men and women lose more than just sleep. You’ll hear about their crumbling relationships with their friends and loved ones… but also with themselves.

If you’re looking for a raunchy, wild read, this isn’t it. But if you’re interested in a real-life glimpse of the intensity of investment banking in New York City, give it a read. And if you’re questioning your own career path, this should make you feel a bit better.

Wishing you happy (and eye-opening) reading, peeps.

Colorfully Yours,

Haley

Book Review: The Last Letter from Your Lover

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember one of my first ever book reviews. It was for the novel Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, which I have raved about to anyone that will listen for the past couple of years. Yes, years. I read it during the winter of my senior year of college, and it still sticks out in my mind as one of the best books I’ve read. And in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I read a lot of books!

At the beginning of the fall season, I stocked up on a ton of used books that I had been meaning to read. One of them included another by Jojo Moyes, called The Last Letter from Your Lover. I was a little hesitant to read it as I’ve often experienced that pang of disappointment that comes with the second book of a bestselling author. A one novel wonder, shall I say.

Well, Ms. Moyes does not fall into that category.

The Last Letter was nothing short of amazing. The best part is that the novel didn’t even feel like it was written by the same author as Me Before You. The storylines and writing style were completely different, which kept the experience fresh and unique.

The novel is a double love story, flashing between 1960 and 2003, with the ultimate collision of the two. The reader is tasked with putting together the pieces of the original love story alongside the protagonist, whose memory is compromised after a serious car accident.

The Last Letter from Your Lover also gives an unusual perspective on an extramarital affair. Although we usually find ourselves rooting against cheating characters, Moyes’ story flips the typical storyline on its head. I won’t give any more away – I want you to enjoy this read as much as I did!

Moyes has recently released a sequel to Me Before You, called After You. I will be adding that to my reading list – stay tuned!

Book Review: #GIRLBOSS

Photo cred to Pinterest, not me!

Photo cred to Pinterest, not me!

I’m normally more of a fiction gal, but lately I’ve been into reading some non-fiction, business-centered books.

I’ve been feeling more entrepreneurial than ever before. I obviously run this blog myself and try to keep up with it – I would love for my follower and content bases both to expand. I also have two jobs…and counting. I say and counting because I have the opportunity to take on another two roles in my field, and lately I’m in a “yes” state of mind.

However, I recently sat down with my parents and explained to them this new overwhelming feeling I’ve been experiencing. I explained that although my jobs are part time, they are full time mentally. For example, running the various social media accounts and website of a store while simultaneously running my blog’s social media accounts and website and my personal social media accounts sometimes makes me feel like I have to be three different people at once. And one of my latest opportunities would require adding a fourth persona into that mix. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way sending out “whoa is me” vibes. I’m lucky to genuinely enjoy the things I’m doing.

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Super cool art from the pages of #GIRLBOSS

I just sometimes get frustrated with the fact that just because I don’t have a 9-to-5 desk job, people think I don’t work hard. The thing with most desk jobs, though, is that at the end of the day, you can leave the desk and shut off that section of your mind. You can’t do that when you essentially ARE a brand.

That’s why I finally felt the need to read Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS. I had definitely been interested in the bestseller when it hit shelves in 2014, but lately the desire to read Amoruso’s perspective on a creative, fashion-centric career seemed more relevant than ever.

For those that aren’t familiar, Amoruso is the founder of Nasty Gal, a huge online fashion retailer. (At the time the book was published, she had also been the only CEO of the company. She has since stepped down to focus more of her energy on the creative side of the company, ironically enough.) Amoruso went from digging through garbage for her next meal to sitting in the boardroom of a wildly successful retailer.

#GIRLBOSS is part success story, part advice-giver, and part tough-lover. The book wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I loved it anyway – or maybe because of that. After I finished the book (in one sitting) I started looking at course catalogues of fashion schools. Needless to say my parents laughed and told me that I better make my 2.5 jobs into 8 if that’s my plan. Oops.girlboss

But regardless of what my future actually holds (probably not school, to be honest), my point is that #GIRLBOSS got me off my butt and into action mode.

Rather than reiterate all the lessons that Amoruso shares in the book, I’ve compiled my favorite quotes from the novel. Enjoy, girlbosses!

  • “You don’t get taken seriously by asking someone to take you seriously. You’ve got to show up and own it.”
  • “Fortune favors the bold who get shit done.”
  • “The more you know what you want, the less you’re willing to put up with what you don’t.”
  • “While I truly believe that you must have intentions to fulfill your dreams, I also think you have to leave room for the universe to have its way and play around a bit. Don’t get so focused on one particular opportunity that you’re blind to the other ones that come up. If you think about one thing, and talk about it all the time, you’re being too obsessive. You might ruin it. If you let yourself meander a bit, then the right things and the right people fall into place.”
  • “You have to kick people out of your head as forcefully as you’d kick someone out of your house if you didn’t want them to be there.”
  • “Your challenge as a #GIRLBOSS is to dive headfirst into things without being too attached to the results. When your goal is to gain experience, perspective, and knowledge, failure is no longer a possibility.”
  • “When you begin with the finish line in mind, you miss all the fun stuff along the way.”
  • “You can have a ton of money and buy yourself all the designer goods you can stuff into the trunk of your Mercedes-Benz, but no amount of money can buy you style.”
  • “Clothing is ultimately the suit of armor in which we battle the world. When you choose your clothing right, it feels good. And there’s nothing shallow about feeling good.”

Book Review: The One and Only

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As I sit down to write a review of Emily Giffin’s The One and Only, I’m realizing how conflicted I feel about it.

Let me start with a brief synopsis. The story follows 33-year-old Shea Rigsby from Walker, a small town in Texas. The town takes a Friday Night Lights-esque approach to football – they live, eat, and breathe it. Shea is no exception. In fact, she loves football arguably more than anyone in town. She idolizes the local coach, who also happens to be her best friend’s father. Shea finally decides to step out of the Walker football cocoon career-wise, but soon learns that the obsession follows her everywhere.

I did finish this 400+ page book in two days. Then again, that probably doesn’t hold much weight considering I’ve said similar things about my last several reads. Being a bookworm and a night owl is a deadly combination!

Now let me follow up by saying how uneasy this novel made me feel. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like reading it – it just means that the storyline wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Frankly, it made me feel pretty weird.

It’s hard to explain that without giving away any spoilers. But I will say that based on the book description you’ll find on the inside cover, you’re going to assume this is your standard chick-lit. I sure did.

However, the novel covers some intense topics. And I can’t say I loved how Giffin addressed them.

In my opinion, though, some of the best books I’ve read present a sort-of moral dilemma to the reader. You keep changing your mind about whose side you’re on.

The One and Only certainly kept my interest, as I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. It was one of those “I’ll sleep after this chapter…no wait, after this one!” situations. So the entertainment value was certainly there.

At the same time, it seemed a little like Giffin went in so many different directions in the first three-quarters of the book that she ran out of steam in the last quarter. (See my little football reference?! I can be sporty!) Many of the topics that had been brought up felt undeveloped in the end.

You’re probably sitting behind your computer screen thinking about how completely unhelpful this review was, but I’m just going to have to let you find out for yourself.

Give it a read and let me know in the comments whether you loved it, hated it, or felt a little of both. Happy reading!